[OPE-L:6439] Re: Variable capital and the determination of value

Eduardo Maldonado Filho (eduardo@orion.ufrgs.br)
Wed, 8 Apr 1998 22:09:14 -0300

Paulo wrote (re: 04/06/98)

> It may be of some help to consider variable capital as paying for
> the value of labor power but acquiring a quantity of labor
> containing surplus value.

Eduardo comments:

As I understand, the money capital advanced to purchase (i.e., to rent)
labor-power (LP) pays for the value of this commodity, but what the
capitalist gets is its use-value - labor. So I agree with you that the
capitalist acquires a quantity of labor, but not "a quantity of labor
contaning surplus value".

> I say this because this way what determines the
> magnitude of value created is not variable capital itself --considered as
> a constant magnitude of value -- but the amount of living labor it allows
> to be incorporated into production.

Eduardo comments:

Well, as explaning in my latest post to Chris, capital-value only becomes
variable capital when it assumes the form of living labor. In money form,
capital does not acquire the capacity to create value, living labor (paid
with money by the capitalist) IS varaible capital itself.

> In fact, in the quotation provided by
> Eduardo, Marx defines variable capital as a stock of value which
> transforms itself into a flow of labor. Therefore it is variable not only
> in the sense of being the source of increase in value, but variable also
> in the sense of changing from a stock into a flow: stock of value into a
> flow of labor.

Eduardo comments:

I agree with you on that.

Eduardo comments:

> It may be that from this point of view the semantic disagreement
> (provided
> it is only semantic) may start to dissolve.
> Paulo Cipolla

Eduardo comments:

It seems to me that the disagreement between myself and Chris (and perhaps
you) is not merely semantic, but concerns the understanding of Marx's
concept of variable capital.